Monday, June 19, 2006


Cheese Grilled in Grape Leaves

Love is in the air, and it isn’t even springtime in Paris. It just seems like this little (though, larger by the day) food-centric blog-o-sphere is abound with stories of enchanted meetings, blossoming relationships and truly romantic outcomes. (Update: Like this.)

Me, I’m not there, not even close really, but I do have good friends filling my thoughts and letting me feed them, and that is pretty durned okay by me.

As for the rest of it, well, what I have come to know of love seems to revolve around a small white tub of fresh goats milk cheese from Corsica and a fiendishly giving cheese monger who may have stolen my heart with his gentle offerings of profoundly delectable foodstuffs.

While deeply mired in a day of shopping for who-knows-what-all, I made a much-needed stop in to the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. It’s a tiny little room that I have long considered the true heart of the burb. It’s delirious aroma fills your head, while your eyes feast on the abundance of luscious delights. There is always a small handful of cheerful patrons and an occasional juicy star spot. It is also where ones diet could swiftly go the way of the Dodo and your bank account will certainly feel the pangs of withdrawal.

On this occasion, I was on a mission, and my imaginary bf Todd, who was cheerfully waiting behind for the counter, greeted me on arrival. As always, he was there to answer any and all of my seemingly strange questions, was only too happy to help fulfill my cravings and desires (va-voom!). He does this so easily too! Just by plying me with oozing gooey fantasticness while cooing meltingly sentimental comments such as “This Roquefort is considered too strong for the American palate, what do you think?” “Do you taste the light hint of lavender?” and “Wait, just try this one more. You’re going to love it…it’s from a small village in the Southern foothills of…” well, you get the idea.

My request was simple, I had some grape leaves and wanted to use them to wrap around a cheese and grill it. I was thinking feta would be a classic match, but in truth was on the fence, since it is not my favorite. Twelve samples later (and that was before I expressed my profound love for blue cheeses. Bring on the mold baby!) we settled on an outrageously fresh Corsican Brocciu. It’s a fresh goat/ewes milk ricotta style cheese that comes in a little tub and made my mouth smile with its touching innocence. I knew it would be the lynchpin to wow my guests with this unique dish.

Getting home and firing up the grill was just about the hardest part in this recipe. The cheese just gets warmed through, making it a priority to use top quality ingredients. Take some grape leaves, a little bit of exceptional olive oil, some bread and a hot grill or pan, and you too can find out what heaven must taste like. This is just without parallel. The saltiness of the grape leaves, the crunch of the bread, the creamy, warm cheese and the smokiness of the fire come together to make appetizer perfection. Try this and you will, without a doubt, enjoy.

24 grape leaves, rinsed and stemmed
1 cup ricotta or feta style cheese cut into 24 1 ½ oz. pieces
Olive oil for brushing
Black pepper
48 slices of baguette, toasted (or ideally, brushed with oil and grilled)
4 medium tomatoes, diced
6 black olives, pitted and diced (I used dry cured)

Preheat your grill or a large dry pan.

Gently toss the cheese pieces with enough olive oil to coat. Season with black pepper.

Place a small bit of the cheese on a grape leaf and fold over to seal. Brush with a bit more olive oil and set aside. Continue with the rest of the cheese. You can make the bundles up to a day in advance. Refrigerate, covered if you do.

Toss the tomatoes with the minced olives, add a small dash of oil and season to taste with salt.

Grill the grape leaves, seam side down for about two minutes on the edge of your grill (away from the direct heat) turn and grill an additional two minutes. Remove and serve with bread and tomato relish.

Makes 24


Brocciu is a derivative of the word Brousse, another name for cream cheese made from raw ewe's milk or goat's milk. Brocciu is special because it was the first whey cheese with the AOC seal. Brocciu is very popular in Corsica and is sold in re-usable baskets. Most of the time, it is eaten fresh, but a part of the production is ripened. It is however, difficult to find this specialty outside of Corsica. –Frencheese.Co.Uk

Cheese, a concentrated dairy food made from milk, is defined as the fresh or matured product obtained by draining the whey (moisture or serum of original milk) after coagulation of casein, the major milk protein. –Innovate with

Switzerland's Nestle SA (NESN.VX) said on Monday it was buying weight-loss company Jenny Craig for around $600 million after a high profile diet by actress Kirstie Alley helped boost the U.S. company's sales. Nestle said it agreed to buy Jenny Craig from private equity firms ACI Capital and MidOcean Partners. The price was about five times what these investors paid in 2002 for the company, which sells prepackaged meals and offers personalized weight loss programs through a network of over 600 centers. Nestle, the world's largest food company, said weight management would form a new pillar of activity in its nutrition business. -Reuters

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Would you mind if I borrowed your bf Todd to teach me something about cheeses? I have an absolutely amazing bf of my own, so I promise I'll return him to you in perfectly fine condition.
Since Todd is only my imaginary bf, I'm sure he would be more than happy to help out. The boy does know his cheese! LOL.
Hi Rachael,
I don't usually comment just to say I am drooling over a recipe, but I love your grape leaves! I will make them as soon as I can. I also enjoyed reading about the cheese shop as trying new cheeses is one of my many food-related hobbies. Mediterranean-style apps are one of my favorite things to eat. I once tried a bulgarian feta that would be great in this dish. When I do it, I think I'll mix crumbled Greek feta with my favorite ricotta for the filling. I have never stuffed grape leaves myself so I'm looking forward to it. What brand do you use?
This is my first encounter with grape leaves, look s like an interesting dish, and nice photos.
This looks great--where did you get the grape leaves? Also, have you been to the Cheese Store of Silver Lake (offspring of CSBH I believe)? If so, how does it compare? I've only been to the Silver Lake store, but would be willing to make the trek to BH if the selection is better, etc...
Thanks for all the great comments!

I bought the jarred leaves from Whole Foods, I forget what the brand was, but I should have mentioned they were really hard to get out of the whatever brand you buy, make sure the mouth of the jar is wide or else they will end up shredded!

And Erin, the Silverlake store was opened by a former employee of BH (as far as I know) they have pretty much all the same cheeses. BH is just closer for me. Though, the SL store can have a too-cool-for-school/record-shop feeling at times, its still an amazing store. Yummy-yum
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